The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Summit Entertainment - 2012
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 110 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Fred Dalton Thompson, James Rasone, Clare Foley, Michael Hall D’Addario
Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Music by: Christopher Young
Written by: Scott Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: February 19, 2013
Ten years ago, true crime writer Ellison Oswald (Hawke) made his reputation with a best-selling account of a notorious murder. Now, desperate to replicate the success of his first book, he moves his family into a home where the previous occupants were brutally executed and a child disappeared, hoping to find inspiration in the crime scene. In the home, Ellison discovers a cache of terrifying home movies, unwittingly opening the door into a nightmarish mystery.
Sinister revolves around Ellison Oswald a true crime author that blindly stumbles upon an age old evil/mystery that begins with the discovery of a box he finds in the attic of the home they just moved into. The box contains an old projector and several reels of 8mm “home movies” containing five separate labels/dates dating back to the mid nineteen sixties (one in each decade) through to 2011. He is terrified to discover while watching that each is a snuff film depicting families being murdered, each in a different manner. The 2011 incident having taken place in the home he has just moved into.
Smelling a great story for his book he continues to examine the films searching for clues as to the identities/locations of the families when he notices a demonic figure in one of them. Closer examination of each reveals the same presence. As Ellison presses further in attempts to understand what he is seeing and why things within his home begin to take an ominous turn. He soon learns the truth about the murders, the victims and the evil he fears he may have now unleashed on his family. If he is to protect his family Ellison must come to understand the significance found in the missing members from each murdered family as well as the portentous terror that ultimately lies in store...
As a fan of the genre I enjoy a good scare and judging from the trailer for Sinister looked forward to its plot about a writer that moves his family to a new town/house only to find them threatened by an evil living within. These days it’s pretty tough to come up with new concepts to spin these types of plots around and here we don’t get anything new. What we do get is a narrative that borrows from other popular horror films and the combination comes together fairly well although clichés abound. I couldn’t help but be reminded of The Ring with the found footage snuff movies and trying to piece it all together. From a conceptual standpoint I thought the film worked well. There are a couple of decent jump scares and occasionally the building of suspense coincided nicely with them.
I think where Sinister comes up short for me is in the elements of horror. It fails to connect to the real significant portent of evil, namely the demonic entity, which left him much less of a fear factor. What you are left with is more creepy horror with elements of mystery as opposed to the type that raises the hairs on the back of your neck leaving you lying awake a night. It should be noted that my wife and teenaged son found it scarier than I did so perhaps your mileage may vary. Either way it was an enjoyable watch that effectively drew us in and occasionally elicited a pulse raising reaction.
The rating is for disturbing violent images and some terror.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Sinister comes to Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate HE featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 30 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.5 Mbps.
This film utilizes a stylized design that is meant to create a visual aesthetic that supports its thematic elements. The predominating palette is limited with little chromatic saturation which results in a sort of muted sepia. Blacks are deep, with appreciable gradations and dynamic highlights that surface when onscreen with mixed light/dark content. This is a predominantly dark film that contains many sequences shot in low lit environs and natural lighting. While there is some loss of visibility in dark backgrounds contrast and brightness levels aren’t overdriven and work in tandem to preserve detail in dark and light elements onscreen. The applied filtering and cinematography have an effect on perceived resolution however images onscreen appear lucid and sharp. Close ups reveal lots of fine detail in the faces, hair and clothing worn by the cast members. Long range shots aren’t resolved quite as well but appear dimensionally satisfying. This is an excellent high definition presentation that is revealing of the high production elements used in the film.
I think this is a well designed lossless audio presentation that plays well to the film’s thematic tone. It effectively uses the entire sound field to elicit reaction to sounds emanating from differing vantage points and off screen cues. The soundtrack’s recorded elements are enhanced by its rich clarity, and punchy dynamics that resonate through the room with tangible authority. Dialogue through the center channel is crystal clear and maintains a position of prominence within the front soundstage. The rear channels contain a mixture of spatial ambience as well as directional panning cues that effectively correlate with the events transpiring onscreen. This surround mix capably handles the subtle intricacies thrown at by this soundtrack as it augments the elements of fright in this purposefully creepy film.
- Audio commentary with director Scott Derrickson
- Audio commentary with writers Scott Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill
- (HD) Living in a house of death – 11 minute documentary
- (HD) True Crime Authors – 9 minute documentary
- (HD) Deleted scenes with optional director commentary – 5 minutes
- Digital Copy
- Ultraviolet Digital Copy
Sinister is a contrived but effective genre entry that could have benefited from a deeper script. It has its moments and depending on what scares you might leave you thinking about it after the lights go out. It comes to Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring excellent high definition video, involving 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio sound and a lackluster supplemental package that is highlighted by a pair of filmmaker commentary tracks. Sinister is a worthwhile rental on a dark rainy evening when the wind is blowing and the house is creaking. Don’t forget the popcorn!
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